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SANZAAR Shifts Schedule, Resolves Rugby Championship Dispute

SANZAAR Shifts Schedule, Resolves Rugby Championship Dispute

New Zealands All Blacks will no longer have to spend Christmas Day in quarantine after southern hemisphere governing body SANZAAR on Thursday altered the contentious schedule for the Rugby Championship in Australia.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand: New Zealands All Blacks will no longer have to spend Christmas Day in quarantine after southern hemisphere governing body SANZAAR on Thursday altered the contentious schedule for the Rugby Championship in Australia.

The All Blacks were scheduled to play their final match in the four-nation Championship against Australia in Sydney on Dec. 12, forcing players and support staff to spend Christmas Day in managed isolation because of the requirement to quarantine for 14 days on their return to New Zealand.

SANZAAR announced on Thursday the tournament will be stretched from six to seven weeks and the Dec. 12 match between Australia and New Zealand will move to Oct. 31 in Sydney, following on directly from the Bledisloe Cup tests in Wellington this Sunday and in Auckland on Oct. 18.

The Dec. 12 test between world champions South Africa and Argentina will move from Sydney to Newcastle on same date while the remainder of the draw, involving five doubleheaders over five weeks, remains unchanged.

The scheduling issue became a rancorous one between New Zealand, Australia and SANZAAR. New Zealand, which lost the tournament hosting rights to Australia over quarantine regulations, claimed it had an agreement to play the Rugby Championship over five weeks, rather than six. That would have seen the All Blacks playing their last match against Australia on Dec. 5, ensuring players would rejoin their families for Christmas.

But Rugby Australia and SANZAAR insisted the Dec. 12 final day had been agreed by all four nations and leaked minutes of a SANZAAR chief executives meeting supported that view.

Various options to resolve the impasse were considered including the All Blacks boycotting the final match in Sydney.

Thursdays scheduling change avoided that threat but will likely come at a cost. It is expected to hit broadcast and ticketing revenues which are due to be shared among the competing nations.

SANZAAR chief executive Andy Marinos said the move would result in revised commercial outcomes.

Rugby Australia and SANZAAR, with the support of the New South Wales government, South Africa, Argentina and New Zealand, have been proactive in putting numerous workable solutions forward that have now enabled us to adjust the draw, Marinos said.

This year has been a year of continued adjustment where the SANZAAR partners have had to compromise on a number of levels. It is important to further acknowledge the sacrifice of a number of the players and team management that will have been away from home for close to six months by the time the Rugby Championship has concluded. This is again a testament to the strong values that encompass our game.

Argentina, which has been hit by an internal COVID-19 outbreak affecting at least 10 players and the head coach, has arrived in Australia and is already in quarantine. South Africas participation in the tournament has yet to be confirmed because of its lack of domestic rugby. A final decision is likely to be made by South Africa Rugby officials on Saturday.

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